Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the London Charterers’ and Shipbrokers’ Forum 2023 organized by Binnacle. It was an all-day event of expert talks, presentations and challenging discussion on the issues facing charterers and shipbrokers in the age of shipping digitalization.
AXSMarine was proudly represented by our CCO Steve Fletcher, who earlier in 2023 won the Personality of the Year Award by IBJ. Steve was a part of the opening Supplier Panel Discussion, looking at the current landscape, trends and developments in the market. He also took the stage with an afternoon presentation sharing market insights on how charterers can use technology and quality market data to negotiate better.
Opening the discussion
This year's Digital Progress Event was started by an open panel, discussing and answering questions of the size and limits for the current addressable market for maritime technology, the ways that technology can assist with the decisions having to be made by people in the industry on a regular basis, and the best ways for collaboration between tech vendors aiming to maximize the value received by customers.
Over the past five years, the influx of startups and venture capital in the maritime technology space has brought enormous expectations in terms of future revenues and the total addressable market. According to Steve, the current market for maritime technology solutions stands at a high level with about 5000 target companies, averaging a spend of about $100,000 per year. This roughly translates to about $500m, but current investment levels are likely in excess of that.
Today's cyclical market sees leaders emerge, get emulated and consequently as competition increases clients have more choice. However, increased investment will not always produce the desired results and interest rates, as well as bank failures have placed an increased pressure on return-on-investment timelines. Ultimately, according to Steve the cost of technology can be justified as long as customers actually get value out of the technology solutions at the commercially viable price point.
The key is to use the right tools, which take a vast sea of unorganized data and produce the right informational insights, which matter to the clients. This could range from the macro level, i.e. monitoring market trends, timeseries and faster data access, to the micro level of charter rates, estimating waiting and berthing times and so on.
To achieve the goal of decision-making, the data input and workflow of the solution must be of high quality. Steve shared our experience that clients are rational and smart professionals preferring to form their own opinions about the market and make their own judgement.
Engaging the audience
Steve's own presentation focused on technology assisting charterers with negotiating well and giving them access to high quality market data for better-informed decisions. Attendees in the audience were asked to share the biggest data challenges they face in the 2023 dynamic market flows of key data coming in through multiple channels and systems.
As the information is not easily accessible or readily usable, it's the job of technology solutions to step in. APIs and BI tools have lately become mainstream, reducing duplicate tasks and leading to the more efficient use of time by shipping professionals.
Steve also shared a brief history of Software-as-a-Service tools in shipping, how AIS became widespread in the market, and the introduction of automation tools handling enormous amounts of emails and shipping data.
Concluding, Steve noted how the role and experience of the person leading the selection process heavily determines the solution chosen and again engaged the audience, asking them to share the driving factors when deciding which solutions were the best fit for them.
A great time at a great event
All the fruitful discussions at the 2023 Digital Progress Event were capped off by a networking event which our entire team in attendance enjoyed. It was a great pleasure and opportunity to meet fellow professionals in London, looking for tailored maritime software solutions. We look forward to future events, where we can get together and continue bringing digital technology closer to shipping.